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Oregon Fishing
This is Dennis Dobson at Oregon Outdoors with your north coast fishing report for the week beginning October 4th.
What a week! One day we can’t keep chinook off our rods, the next day I couldn’t get a bite to save my life. I was having so much trouble getting a fish that if salmon had been on sale at Safeway they would have been out of it when I got there. It’s very frustrating to watch salmon being caught all around you and not get any real take-downs. For most of that day all we had was the occasional ‘hit and spit’. It wasn’t until the last two hours of the day that we finally tagged a couple of fish that decided to ‘bite and fight’. Thankfully.
There are a lot of fish in both Nehalem and Tillamook bays right now. This is the most fish I’ve seen this early in more than ten years. If, and I emphasize if, the rains come on time we should have a truly memorable chinook season.
General Conditions
River levels are, of course, still very low. The first good shot of rain we get will likely bust things loose. Steelie and cutthroat numbers are good thoughout area streams and there has been a pretty good bite. The salmon fishing in both Tillamook and Nehalem bays has become a bit erratic with good days followed by slow days. There’s no real pattern to it so all you can do is fish ,fish, fish until you connect with a couple of fish. The weather forecast says we might get a bit of rain Sunday and Monday. If so, expect the bite in both bays and the tidewater sections of the Wilson, Trask, Nestucca and Tillamook rivers to turn on for a few days.
The Nestucca and Wilson rivers are both producing steady catches of steelhead. Work deeper, cooler water and concentrate on the first hour or two of daylight and the hour just before dark for your best chances. Driftboaters are doing well from Farmer’s Creek down to Cloverdale on the Nestucca, but be prepared to drag your boat over gravel bars in places. The Wilson is also very skinny but steelies are holding in all of the deeper pools. Neither river is seeing much pressure as everyone is out chasing salmon. Three Rivers, near Hebo, is producing good catches of steelies and over a thousand fish have been recycled into the Nestucca in the last two months from the Three Rivers hatchery.
Hatchery (fin-clipped) coho is open on the Trask above the Highway 101 bridge and there are lots of fish holding in the river right now. Every deep hole between the bridge and Loren’s Drift is holding bright fish. The bite has been consistently good throughout the lower river, from Loren’s downstream to the takeout just above Highway 101. The coho fishery on the Trask will remain open through October 31.
Young’s Bay is still hot for coho. The commercial fishermen are not working the bay right now due to low salmon prices at the dock in Astoria. This means more coho are available than usual for sport anglers. Young’s Bay is very shallow and trolling just doesn’t work too well. Try anchoring up on the edge of the main channel and casting spoons or spinners.
The Kilchis River above the old Hwy 101 bridge, the Wilson above the railroad bridge, the Trask above Hwy 101 and the Nestucca above Cloverdale all re-opened to chinook on September 16.
The Nestucca, from the bay up to the head of tidewater just below Cloverdale, is producing good numbers of early chinook. In particular, anglers are doing well at both the “Combat Zone” at Bob Straub Park and the Rock Hole just upstream from Woods.
When you can get over the bar at Tillamook both the area right in front of the jetties and the zone behind south jetty have been producing well. Tillamook Bay is now closed to coho fishing but Nehalem Bay is open and will remain so until October 31.
The Tillamook Terminal Area (inside the jetties) is open through November 15 for chinook. The Triangular Control Zone (ocean bubble) is also open through November 15 for chinook. Coho season inside Tillamook Bat will end on September 30.
The Nehalem system is still producing well, especially for coho. The bite up there has been really good the last several days. Inside the bay, from the jetty mouth upstream, is open for the retention of both chinook and fin-clipped coho. Barbed hooks are allowed inside the bay. Chinook is open outside the jetties, barbless only, and both fisheries are producing well with relatively light pressure. Trolled herring are working best and the best bite, out at the jaws and in the ocean, is consistently during the last two hours of an incoming tide. Inside Nehalem Bay, from Paradise Cove to Nehalem, you can count on a good bite right at first light and again during the last couple of hours before high tide. There are a lot of salmon in the Nehalem system right now as well as a lot of forage fish. This means you have to pretty much bump a fish on the nose to trigger a bite.
The Columbia River, from the mouth upstream to Bonneville Dam, re-opened for the retention of sturgeon on October 1. Sturgeon fishing on Tillamook Bay is fairly steady, although seeing almost no pressure as virtually everyone’s attention is on salmon right now. West Channel and the dolphins at Bay City will both be producing this week. Be sure to contact Dennis and Marie at Tillamook Bait for up-to-date info on the sturgeon bite. They really do have the best idea, day to day, about what and where the bite is on the bay.
If you want to wet a line this coming week I’d suggest you call either Ron Byrd at Nestucca Valley Sporting Goods (503-392-4269) for up-to-date info on the Nestucca and Three Rivers or Dennis and Marie Will at Tillamook Bait Company (503-842-5031) for the latest word on the Trask, Wilson and Tillamook Bay. Kelly and Janice at The Jetty Fishery can give you all of the up-to-date info you need on the fishing at Nehalem. They can be reached at 503-368-5746.
Bass and Walleye
Bass and walleye fishing has been spotty. I am getting some reports of good days and others reporting few if any fish caught at all. This is one of those times I think your best bet is to call around to area tackle shops and get as up-to-date info as you can before deciding where to go fish. I do know the John Day, below Kimberly, has been consistently good of late. I am also hearing reliable reports that one hot spot has been in deeper water just below McNary Dam. Plugs trolled in 20 to 25 feet of water has been the ticket lately.
Trout fishing in most coastal streams will remain open through October 31. Bear in mind that all streams north of Neskowin Creek (Cascade Head) remain catch and release only through the end of the season. All trout stocking for the year has been completed. Fall stocking of larger fish is not scheduled to occur as low-water conditions at both hatcheries and local lakes necessitated early release of these fish.
The stocking schedule is now available on the internet at AND at
Charter boats and general anglers are still doing consistently well bottom fishing out of a number of Oregon ports. Depoe Bay, Brookings, Astoria and Garibaldi, in particular, are posting consistent limits whenever they can get out. Surf perch fishing is excellent along a number of central coast beaches and the jetty fishing from Nehalem to Yaquina has remained excellent for both perch and greenling.
Crabbing and Shellfish
The ocean is closed for dungeness crab through November 30. Crabbing is picking up in both Nehalem and Tillamook bays with consistent limits of good, hard-shelled Dungeness being taken. Netarts Bay is also producing good catches of crab. All ocean beaches from the south jetty of the Columbia River to Tillamook Head, are closed to razor clam harvest for conservation reasons. Except for the jetties at the ocean entrances, all bays in the closure area remain open. For the latest info on beach closures, call the Shellfish Hotline at 503-986-4728 or go to on the web for updates.
Kilchis River Special: Each year the Kilchis hosts a major run of chum and chinook salmon. When the rains and the run coincide it isn’t unusual for anglers to play 10 to 20 chum and a couple of chinook each. And, while the chum are catch and release only, you can take home up to two chinook. Among the most aggressive of the salmon species, chum will pretty much hit anything you put in front of them. And, whether you chase them with conventional gear or fly rods, they are great fighters. This year I am reserving the period from October 15 through the close of chum season on November 15 for chum and chinook fishing on the Kilchis. These are full-day driftboat trips. I am discounting my regular driftboat price from $125 to $100 per person. You must fill both seats and book a minimum of one week in advance. This is one of my most popular fisheries so I suggest you book your seats early to assure you get the date you want.
Salmon Special- Fall 2001 - Nehalem Bay and Tillamook Bay: Parties of two or three people, just $125 per person, per day - a $25 per person savings. Fill all four seats for just $450- a savings of $150. (Standard rate is $150 per person, per day).
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Until next week, have a great time and go catch some fish.